John Gordon Nix, Jr., October 29, 1911–November 5, 2001.
these two dates there lies a "dash," a tiny mark of punctuation,
which in this case represents a generous span of 90 years.
J. Gordon's birth in Denison, Texas, as the only child of Gordon and
Nix, and his departure on an exciting new journey on Monday morning,
5, 2001, the small dash represents not merely time, but a life well
loving wife and helpmate of 65 years, Mary Helen, survives, as do
Judy Johnson and her husband, Tom, and Jeanette, as well as uncountable
and individuals who are enjoying more productive lives due to J.
influence. Others who became part of Gordon and Mary Helen's lives
recent years are friends and caregivers, Polo Sanchez, Virginia Reyes,
small portion of J. Gordon's well-lived life was dedicated to
education, as he
many years challenging others to reach their goals through education.
stood tall in stature approximately 6'3" (often taller in his Texas
boots), and tall in his quiet, charming, knowledgeable personality.
graduating high school in 1929 from Denison High, he earned a B.A.
education Southeastern Teacher's State University in Durant, Oklahoma
That same year he and his Denison sweetheart, Mary Helen Kingston, were
on Christmas Day 1936. Shortly thereafter the couple moved to Harlingen
Gordon had begun teaching at what was then Alamo Elementary School on
"F" St. Two elementary principle positions, the first at James H.
Dishman, and later at Sam Houston Elementary, kept him very busy for
years, as he began to help the Harlingen School District strengthen its
youthful roots. During these years the young couple settled in
they have continued to live, and saw their family grow with the birth
War II stepped into Gordon's life in 1942 for a stint of 3-1/2 years,
became a lieutenant in the U.S. Army leading troops of the 157th
Africa, Italy, Germany, and the invasion of southern France. During his
he earned a number of wartime decorations, including the Purple Heart.
1946 he was back in a schoolhouse once again, as a teacher and then
principal, at Minnie B. Gay Junior High. He was also a student himself
years, earning a master's degree in 1950 from Texas A & I in
was making a difference in the lives of children as an educator, and in
was selected as Harlingen High School principal, where he remained
From 1967 until 1970 Gordon served in the area of school administration
Director of Special Services, before returning to Stuart Place and
Elementary Schools to provide leadership as their principal. It
fair to say that Gordon actually retired on June 10, 1977, after an
43 years of service, because he never ceased being an educator. As tall
man as J. Gordon Nix Jr. was, he was never, ever too tall to put
himself on the
level of a child.
Nix," as he had come to be known in the school district and community
("It was hard to call him by his first name, not because he didn't
encourage it, but because we respected him so highly," said a fellow
educator), barely took a deep breath before offering his experience as
board member in 1981–1986, serving as Board president in 1982–1983. In
the Harlingen Public Schools chose to honor the unselfish and
contributions Mr. Nix made to children, staff, and the community, by
central office location on Tyler Street in his honor, as the "J. Gordon
Nix, Jr. Support Center," and in a resolution so noting, referred to
an "Educator for the Past, Present and Future." The City of
Harlingen, under the direction of Mayor H. William Card Jr., also
15, 1997, as J. Gordon Nix Day.
the "dash" of his 90 years, J. Gordon was a loving husband and
father, a faithful friend, and an asset to his community. He was a
member of the North Harlingen Rotary Club, which he served for many
secretary-treasurer, and with the ghost-writing skills of his precious
the duo prepared the group's newsletter for many years. "Gordon was
an excellent delegator of tasks, and I was his willing accomplice,"
Mary Helen. Gordon also served on a number of city boards and was
the Planning and Zoning Commission. Gordon enjoyed dove and duck
fishing, and a good conversation. He was president of the Valley
for 7 years, and was honored for his years of service. He also was a
60 years of membership.
note that J. Gordon was a very fair person. But, a no was a no, and a
yes was a
yes! All describe him as a gentleman, a leader, a man of strength and
man whose "dash" of 90 years was filled to overflowing with
"Service above Self," as the Rotary Creed states. Mary Helen also
remembers a lighter side of her husband, as she recalls their enjoyment
dancing together as young newlyweds. A wonderful memory to linger in
will be held at St. Alban's Episcopal Church on 7th St. in Harlingen on
Wednesday, November 7, 2001, at 1 p.m. A reception will follow the
the church parish hall. J. Gordon's ashes will rest in the Columbarium
family wishes to thank everyone who has expressed their love and
for J. Gordon's life. They would like you to know that he had a sincere
interest in each person whose life crossed his path, and enjoyed
sharing a warm
handshake and a friendly greeting with you.
lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations may be made to
St. Alban's Episcopal Church, 1417 E. Austin, Harlingen, TX. 78550 or
the Harlingen Public Library, 410 76 Drive, Harlingen, Texas 78550.
are with Buck Ashcraft Funeral Home.